Walk cities new and old in Pisac, Peru
Markets and ruins abound across South America, but nowhere do the two sit so complementarily as in Pisac. In the shadow of a massive Incan ruin perched atop a cliff, this colonial town hosts a vibrant daily market, both of which are well worth a stop during a tour of Peru.
Life in commotion
The sprawling Sacred Valley was once home to the Incans, with the ancient city of Cusco serving as their capital. Contained within the valley's expanse are the famed ruins of Machu Picchu as well as the less well-known ruins of Pisac.
Any talk of the region's ancient past makes it sound like it's somehow set in stone, but the Andean valley is truly a beautiful sight, with lush grass and agriculture allowed to spring to life by the carving course of the Urubamba River. That fertility of the region seems to carry into Pisac's lively flea market. It is one of the best in Peru, with a sea of stalls around the central square of the village. Spilling down from the Andes are hosts of local merchants looking to sell their wares, themselves serving as a profitable experience for tourists - those sellers are often wearing the colorful textured ponchos of Andean villages.
The market itself is comprised of two sections for food and trinkets. One writer from Afar.com noted the diversity of the food, with cows heads occupying table space with bowls of fresh fish and fried corn with seasoning. Apart from meat there is also a host of fruits and vegetables to be had. On the textile and art side of the market, shoppers will find ponchos, hats and other souvenirs to commemorate their visit.
Lost in time
A winding road will lead travelers away from the city square to the more somber Incan ruins. There, too, life seemed to bustle. According to Fodor's, the massive, fortified complex acted partly as a citadel, religious site, sophisticated astronomical observatory and homestead. Today, however, the meandering, narrow trails between solid rock are uninhabited, and a good place to find quiet, if not solace. High on the cliffs, travelers will also find a series Incan tombs - within these ruins is the largest known Incan cemetery.
A brighter view looks out from a terrace near the top of the fortified area. This area, which Frommer's names Qorihuayrachina, offers an amazing panorama of the valley and the terraces lapping up the sides of the mountain slopes.